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Our 'House of Cards' Season 2 live blog is over — but you can still follow along!

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Update: The (spoiler-free) full season 2 review

The second season of House of Cards is now available — and we (meaning "I") binge-watched it from the very first minute through the finale's credits. Join us (meaning "just me") right here for all the updates episode by episode, hour by hour, soul-crushing manipulation by soul-crushing manipulation.

Let's set some expectations:

  • There will be spoilers (obviously). Expect Key plot points, quotes, and personal musings (about both the show and my sanity). For spoiler- and context-free moments, watch Twitter.
  • I won't be updating every minute - more likely about 5-6 times per episode.
  • I'll be giving myself a few minutes between each episode to collect notes, take bathroom breaks, etc.
  • Individual update timestamps are relevant to the episode. I'll provide my own personal running clock at the start of each episode

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
YOU'VE NOW BEEN WARNED TWICE.

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And now for some wild Season 2 predictions that everyone can laugh at me for later.

  • The Peter Russo story will not be resolved until the end of the season. It may not even come up during the middle episodes
  • Bryan Bishop makes a compelling case that Claire or Zoe will die. My guess? Doug Stamper
  • Gillian Cole's baby daddy? Remy Danton
  • Someone else besides Frank will break the fourth wall and do a monologue to the camera

Before the Premiere

  • Just so we're clear, I only managed to sleep for about 3 hours ahead of this. So things are gonna get weird real fast. With 13 episodes, I'm gonna estimate just under 14 hours until I'm done. So... 5PM ET? Give or take?
  • While you wait, check out what Tim Carmody had to say about House of Cards season one — the first few episodes, at least.

Chapter 14 (49:38)

0 hours, 0 minutes into the marathon

  • Looks like we start exactly where we left off. Francis and Claire out for a jog, his phone still at home while Doug tries to reach him in a panic.
  • So much for dramatic smoking breaks this season (4 min, 34 sec)
  • Our first new character: Jackie Sharp, played by Molly Parker
  • It's been almost 10 minutes and no one has talked directly to the camera yet. I'm starting to feel uncomfortable.
  • My first prediction was absolutely wrong. Gillian Cole's baby daddy was not Remy but someone from her work abroad. (15 min)
  • "The Congressman will be remaining in his town house" because we already have that set. (20 min, 25 sec)
  • A single text message looks fine on screen, but the back-and-forth conversation? Doesn't translate as well. (22 min, 30 sec)
  • "Let's start this new chapter with a clean slate. Now you sleep on that, and I'll be in touch." (25 min)
  • Looks like Claire is getting serious about the baby. Remember, Frank said no to kids a long time ago — and she mentioned last season having had three abortions already. (25 min, 30 sec)
  • Freddy is really, truly scaring me. (29 min)
  • "You're never on the sidelines, Frank." (29 min, 45 sec)
  • "I'm willing to let your child whither and die inside you, but no one wants that" — the first serious threat coming from the other Underwood (32 min)
  • Incognito Kevin Spacey looks a lot like James Spader from The Blacklist. (35 min)
  • WHAT JUST HAPPENED (37 min)
  • Okay, so... that wasn't a dream sequence.
  • I guess Lucas and Janine were just upgraded to the main cast. Maybe just Lucas — he has been getting a lot of solo time so far this episode. (40 min)
  • "Ruthless pragmatism" (44 min, 30 sec)
  • "Did you think I had forgotten you?" There we go: 46 minutes until the first fourth wall. "There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted. Welcome back." The chills, man. The chills.
  • F. U.

Final thoughts: If the season one premiere was about establishing Frank first and foremost, this episode has a much stronger feel of ensemble. Lucas and Rachel are getting more screen time - and possibly a weird, Stockholm syndrome kind of love interest.

And let's talk about "that scene." Whereas the Peter Russo murder seemed out of place at the time, the second time around makes a lot more sense. As Bryan Bishop just said to me, Netflix has marketed this brilliantly. Starting again at 3:55AM ET.

Chapter 15 (48:51)

0 hours, 55 minutes into marathon

  • Hello, Rachel Maddow!
  • Time before fourth wall: 2 minutes, 43 seconds. This episode is off to a much more familiar start.
  • Okay, time for Red Bull #1. I don't think I'm good at rationing.
  • Five politicians, at least one new hairpiece. At least. (5 min, 15 sec)
  • Do you know how hard it is to get a warrant for phone data? (7 min, 20 sec)
  • "You can watch it a million times," but I really, really wouldn't want to. (9 min)
  • So glad to see Catharine Durant. Jayne Atkinson was great in 24.
  • "The president is like a lone tree in an empty field." (10 min, 57 sec)
  • Windows Phone spotting! It's popular in politics at both the federal level and as local as Pawnee county. (12 min)
  • Is Jackie the next-generation Frank? Seems to be hinting at it. Let's see if she ever winks at the camera. (13 min, 30 sec)
  • Dalton McGinnis? That name's gonna come up again.
  • "If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table." (15 min, 45 sec)
  • Vapor! "Addiction without the consequences." The FDA hasn't made up its mind yet. (16 min, 40 sec)
  • General McGinnis: this season's new love interest from Claire's past (19 min 55 sec)
  • ... oh wait, I'm wrong. Very wrong. And with that, our first destroyed household object.
  • Hammerschmidt! So you've, uh, been working on a novel? (23 min)
  • Banging the ring against a bottle. Last season the tension-builder was Frank smacking his ring against a hardwood table when trying to work up Marty Spinella (25 min)
  • A reminder: Hammerschmidt was fired by the newspaper's owner not for calling Zoe a horrible name (he did) but for letting her quit afterwards.
  • His PlayStation can't get online!? We had just about two full seconds of God of War: Ascension's menu. (29 min)
  • "You think I don't want to smash things?" Robin Wright is giving a stellar performance this season. "You'll still feel the hate in the morning. You'll use that. But not on him." (32 min)
  • Frank has a man-crush on Raymond Tusk. Or more to the point, Tusk's power and influence. (34 min)
  • "All you can offer me is Ethics, which nobody wants." Because every line here has to be loaded. (36 min)
  • Now I eat your cake.
  • "96 percent of the internet isn't accessible through search engines." We're now being given an explanation of Tor. (40 min)
  • "We have our fortress now" says Richard III to Lady MacBeth (46 min)
  • Data_Crusader?

Final thoughts: Netflix knows you'll be devoting your time to watching multiple episodes, so like last season, you can probably expect some to be slower, with more exposition and character development. If the season premiere was about tying up loose ends, Chapter 15 continues to show the fallout and set up the ongoing plots of this season. (Is the Gillian Cole story just... done?)

It looks like Peter Russo's case is being put to rest — at least temporarily — while Zoe's is being put front and center. Lucas is now a main cast member, as is newcomer Jackie. The future majority whip has been introduced rather abruptly and roughly, and she seems to be getting established as a hybrid of Frank and Claire. She's aggressive and career minded but she does have moments where tries to justify her actions on some moral high ground (e.g. the illegitimate daughter).

Another major storyline being established: as Jackie becomes "new Frank," Frank has his eyes set on the power that Raymond Tusk wields. Frank doesn't seem entirely happy with all the new surveillance in his life — the sacrifices to privacy he must make as VP. But hey, if Frank was comfortable in his position, season two would get very boring.

Fourth wall moments: 4 (depending on how you count knowing glares to the camera). Smoking breaks: 1. PlayStation references: 1. Household items destroyed: lamp.

Chapter 16 (51:11)

1 hour, 48 minutes into marathon

  • For a split second there, the president almost seemed to have his own voice and confidence. Almost.
  • "There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?"
  • Poor, Lucas. He can't seem to get anyone from season one on his side. (5 min)
  • Turns out if you make an explicit random request to hack into the Vice President's phone, people notice. Go figure. (7 min)
  • Is Rachel Posner's storyline going to tie into anything later? (9 min)
  • That got really, really weird. Really fast. Also, why does every "hack" have to be so dramatic and over-the-top? (13 min)
  • Hahaha oh my god what. Everything about this. "I'm VPN-ing through Iran and 12 other countries, so don't worry." (15 min)
  • The education bill had personal meaning for Frank — which is to say, more establishment of his power. This bill is all about the power dynamic between Frank and Raymond Tusk, but it doesn't resonate as much. Not yet, at least. (18 min)
  • Just a reminder to keep your thumbs away from all webcams, or else you might be signing documents sent via VPN through dozens of countries.
  • Catalina Rodriguez is the name of Jackie's guilt (26 min)
  • The Washington Herald's IT guy only slightly resembles a stock photo... and somehow he doesn't realize when someone blatantly swipes his phone (28 min)
  • 6697 Columbia St NW is just about half a mile from any Starbucks. The coffee shop part isn't relevant to the plot, I'm just wanting an espresso. (29 min)
  • Here comes fire and brimstone Frank. (38 min)
  • Please note, there is a "Moriarty" and a "Mr. Whitehouse" in this Congress.
  • Wow. Do people actually get carried into Congress by the sergeant-at-arms "under protest"? Has that ever happened? (42 min)
  • "It's okay, Raymond. Jesus forgives you. Goodnight." Rick Ross would be proud. (45 min)
  • Weird hacker is Jimmi Simpson, also known as Liam McPoyle from Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (47 min)
  • "I used to be on the edge of the fray. Now I'm only 3 feet away." Great callback to the series premiere (and cute lean in) by Frank.

Final thoughts: I get the feeling I'll be writing less here as the storylines get fully established during the middle chunk of these episodes. Lucas now has an ally in a brand new character. Doug gets uglier as Rachel Posner's raison d'être to the show is... well... is completely unclear. Claire is still waiting in the wings. Remy is nowhere to be seen. I still really, really want to know where Freddy's dark side is going to go.

The bill came and went in just one episode's time, and the contents of the bill really didn't matter. It was a show of power for Frank, and more importantly, a small victory over Raymond Tusk as they struggle to be the president's puppet master.

Fourth wall moments: two. Household items broken: zero.

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Chapter 17 (47:59)

2 hours, 45 minutes into marathon

  • Remy! "Think of Remy as the guy who shows up with a six-pack after the liquor store closes." (2 min)
  • Donald Blythe was the one originally behind the education bill from season one, the martyr who fell on his sword and let Frank take charge. (6 min)
  • Just a reminder: Lucas opened up his newspaper's servers to a hacker who spoke to him as an animated alien thing over Skype.
  • Frank and Donald Blythe trapped in his old office? Is this the House of Cards equivalent of a bottle episode? (9 min)
  • "I know you think I'm fundamentally deceptive..." (14:10)
  • I'm updating less, but that's because there's less going on. The Donald Blythe story is sad and tragic, but so far this episode is about showing another side to Frank, giving Jackie and Remy an excuse to interface, and... we're still figuring out the Claire part. (21 min)
  • Smack!
  • Why does Jackie thing a heavy hand and a dramatic walk-away will secure their vote? Great theater but not convincingly effective. (29 min)
  • I should've been keeping track of all the references to children. (30 min)
  • And here is the one moment that makes this episode worth it. Kudos to Robin Wright. (33 min)
  • McGinnis! General Dalton McGinnis!
  • Jackie's moral authority is pretty aggressive. It's a different style — but if she gets the vote, it pays off.
  • Private Megan Hennessy (40 min)
  • Facebook and Twitter shoutout, but more important, an earnest smile and moment between Frank and Claire.
  • Poor Lucas! But it does ground some of hacker theatrics into just that — theatrics. (42 min)
  • The smoking scene returns! And gets a hair more progressive. Not vaping.
  • The Stanley Brothers - "Pretty Polly"

Final thoughts: The first season had a few throwaway episodes — ones that took a few minutes of development and made a whole episode out of it. This was somewhat similar. Frank and Jackie's styles were put in sharp contrast, and it remains to be seen if Jackie's moral high ground trumps Frank's notorious deception for Donald Blythe's vote. (I'm guessing it will.) I can't say the Lucas-and-hacker turn is all that surprising.

The big turn here was cementing Claire's story for this season — the allegations of rape against General Dalton McGinnis. It's another great moment for Robin Wright — and for her and Kevin Spacey, a great ending to the episode. That all being said, a majority of this episode still feels like filler.

Fourth wall moments: 3. Smoking scenes: one.

I can see light out my window. Sunrise in about 10 minutes. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, after all. Whatever, I still have three Red Bulls.

Chapter 18 (49:05)

3 hours, 41 minutes into marathon

  • Uh. Did I switch to the wrong show?
  • Oh, nope, there's Frank.
  • Found it! Connor is portrayed by Sam Page — Greg Harris from Mad Men
  • "Appearances, as you say." (10 min)
  • I know that's a lot of fourth wall in a little amount of time, but I'm counting them separate since Frank did turn back to acknowledge the real world. Current episode count: four.
  • PRISM program! This would be the time to drink, if it weren't 7 in the morning. (12 min)
  • Is this the first time we've seen the First Lady? Will she'll be as timid as her husband? (15 min)
  • Dr. Marbury. Seth Grayson. More names to remember. (18 min)
  • We're listening to a 24-year-old portraying Frank Underwood's great-great-grandfather (give or take a "great") describe in detail how he died. Civil War reenactments are weird. (22 min)
  • Jimmi Simpson's character, by the way, is Gavin Orsy. If they said it before, I did not pick up on it. (23 min)
  • Doug Stamper's alcoholism was brought up last season with Russo and AA. Between the glass shattering and him grabbing Rachel Posner's knife earlier, this is probably the most emotion we've seen Doug have. (28 min)
  • General James Longstreet
  • Okay, so the First Lady seems to carry more gravitas than her husband. (30 min)
  • "Doesn't this feel real to you?" asks the man who's staying in character as Frank Underwood's Civil War-era ancestor. (38 min)
  • The Secret Service codename for the Vice President? "Little John"
  • "It was butchery, not strategy, that won the war." "There is no sacred ground for the conquered." The show never tires of poetic banter.
  • "What" "Why" "Who" — Kevin Spacey consistently makes the 'h' sound ahead of the words as part of his accent. Without fail. (43 min)
  • "Poor Lucas!" I say every single time. (45 min)
  • "A moment of silence for the dead" — a strong close-up on Kevin Spacey where we really, truly didn't get a monologue of any kind. It's just as well that we didn't. This episode had the most fourth wall moments.

Final thoughts: Season two has been trying to show it can juggle multiple plot lines in a way that's akin to other big-name dramas. But House of Cards was established firmly around the Underwoods — Frank, mostly, and then Claire. Lucas never feels right simply standing in the shadow of Zoe, and it's almost sad to watch him along the inevitable path we see here. Once more with feeling: poor Lucas!

Frank's main adversary remains Raymond Tusk — more solidified now that he took a hit on his own relationship with the president to tarnish Tusk's. A few episodes back, Frank talked about proximity to the president — a callback to the series premiere. But is Frank's ultimate goal to control the president or to be the president? Now or in the next election? What is the end goal?

Does anyone remember Peter Russo? No? Okay.

Chapter 19 (51:46)

4 hours, 36 minutes into marathon

  • Is Rachel here to be the every-person now? To show us that people are impacted by the energy crisis? Or did the show realize like they had no other purpose for her?
  • "Let's put Spotsylvania behind us" — since I found this all too late after the fact, here's the Bloody Angle (Spotsylvania) Wikipedia page."
  • Those are presumably the incriminating photos that Frank took of Zoe in her apartment, at her behest, early in season one. Which is to say, they get a lot worse. (7 min)
  • Hello, Christina! Oh, and a Peter Russo reference — bonus! (8 min)
  • "Stubbornness is far more costly than obedience." (11 min)
  • Here's a thought — what if Rachel Posner just stayed paid off? Never came up again? Would the show be any different, or just shorter? What is this building up to? (12 min)
  • On the other hand, the Lucas payoff is obvious — if it happens. If not, we're just watching someone get beat mercilessly (17 min)
  • Remy and Jackie. She's been built up as the counter-Frank — not the opposite, just another take at the same gig. I still contend her entrance was abrupt, but it's working out. Still, we're seeing very little of her as the show stretches other plot lines. (19 min)
  • Freddy! (20 min)
  • I'm sure this is a metaphor of some sort. Frank "sleeps with the lobbyists" and now so does Jackie. (21 min)
  • "Little John on the move" and Frank grimaces to the camera. I'm counting this as fourth wall. (23 min)
  • So we're absolutely clear... "Trish" being First Lady Patricia Walker, who did show up in Season 1, Chapters 5 and 6 (26 min)
  • Doug Stamper: "Then don't try to scare him. Remove hope from the equation." Which we then cut to a rare moment of Doug being apologetic. (26 min)
  • "But these questions? Why don't you just ask me when I stopped strangling people's pets?" says Frank, knowing full well that the first thing we ever saw was him strangling a person's pet. (29 min)
  • Roy Kapeniak was the hippie journalist from season one who tied Richard Kern to a very liberal editorial from his college paper. I forgot, too, so I looked it up. There. You're welcome. (31 min)
  • What was the audition like for "federal agent bully?" Did anyone else try out? (34 min)
  • Raymond Tusk. "Do not try to spin me, Frank, I'm too old to tango." (36 min)
  • If this Camden Yards scene isn't entirely green screen, I'd be very shocked. (38 min)
  • ... Did Raymond Tusk just go full arch villain? (41 min)
  • I'm pausing to look for anything hyper-important in the article Hammerschmidt held up, and there really isn't much beyond Lucas' reaction. Pretty dry, puts "murder" in quotations and notes that he both dated Zoe Barnes and couldn't provide any specifics to the data he was looking for. On the bright side, we got another moment between Lucas and Janine. "He's gonna get away with it, isn't he?" "Yes." Once more with feeling: poor Lucas. (42 min)
  • Freddy!
  • Absent of his fourth wall monologues, Frank Underwood is his most honest with Raymond Tusk — cut from the same cloth. And around his bodyguard Meechum, of course. (47 min)
  • Scenes with Rachel and Doug are good, as they develop both characters. I still question the church scenes and if that relation with her friend will play out.
  • Here's the story of Rachel from the bible, as told by Rachel: "She was young and beautiful. Jacob fell in love with her while she was watering a lamb and she became his wife after he worked seven years to earn her hand in marriage. Rachel had one son, Joseph. He became a king."

Final thoughts: I said it above but it's worth repeating: absent the fourth wall, Frank Underwood is his most honest with and around Raymond Tusk. Arguably more so than with Doug Stamper, who helps him scheme but doesn't match wits with him. That isn't an entirely truthful Frank, but it's one whose ambitions are clear.

As for Doug, we've seen moments of him address his past and his moments of humanity — not the "errand boy," as it was noted by Mr. Feng. He's persistently worried by temptation, be it an Old Fashioned or the ex-prostitute link to heinous crimes committed by both him and Frank.

Good morning, east coast!

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Chapter 20 (48:20)

5 hours, 35 minutes into the marathon

  • Midterm attack ads based on "Friends of a Better America" — which sounds like a completely legitimate PAC. For the record... Jackie Sharp, Terry Womack, Bob Birch, Frank Underwood, and President Garrett Walker.
  • Frank may not like to hear it, but Walker's right: he was more effective in Congress. Season one was smart to set him up as savvy around legislation, but we haven't seen the same success on anything this time around. (3 min)
  • Unrelated to the show: I think I'm on a second wind. Don't question it, I'm good... and I'm almost halfway there.
  • And now: everyone sleeps with everyone else. Remember Peter Russo? No? (12 min)
  • OH NO ANOTHER DOUBLE CROSS. Seth Grayson goes all the way back to Raymond Tusk. There's probably a chess analogy here.
  • Hey look! Text messages! (17 min)
  • Here's something fun to do: imagine instead of Frank Underwood that Kevin Spacey is playing Jim Williams from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
  • Raymond Tusk is a great arch villain wearing Ted Turner's mustache.
  • "The Wall Street Telegraph" whatever happened to slugline? I miss them. (21 min)
  • He's painting little figurines. Why not Mechwarrior?
  • "Things have changed. We have nothing to gain by misleading you." (24 min)
  • What phone is Frank using? It's got a portrait keyboard. He likes PS Vita but still uses Blackberry? You are a very, very weird man, Frank. (25 min)
  • Red Bull #2! Let's do this!
  • Seth Grayson is really easy to crack! "You're smart." "I betrayed you." A TRIPLE AGENT. Let's go for the high score. (26 min)
  • Let me amend my earlier statement. It isn't "everyone gets laid," it's "how many potential sex scenes can we put Doug Stamper in?" (29 min)
  • We're now dipping our toes into the world of Scandal.
  • Whatever happened to McGinnis? That was a huge deal just a few episodes ago. Was that traumatic emotional moment just fodder for a bill? (34 min)
  • Windows Phone spotting! Definitely not the platform Frank or Doug are using, which is probably why we haven't gotten a close look. (35 min)
  • I think it's now clear what Frank Underwood's master plan was: a buddy to paint figurines with.
  • "People disappear all the time, Mr. Stamper. I could disappear, you could disappear." I'm still worried that Doug wont' outlive this season. He's being developed or built up for something.
  • Connor is going to SpaceX? Well, at least it's a smart script choice.
  • Oh my god is Freddy talking to an entrepreneur. When can this be real? I mean, Bubba Gump Shrimp is now real. Make Freddy's BBQ happen. "Money usually don't come through that door unless it's looking for a plate of ribs." (41 min)
  • Don't forget: Frank Underwood has now killed two people with little hesitation or concern.
  • Do you think Frank would like Titanfall?
  • "I don't place my faith with any white man. Especially one that works in the federal government."
  • "It's not broken. I can fix it." I'm still counting that table covered in painted figurines as a destroyed household item. There have been far too few this season. (44 min)

Final thoughts: Time and time again, House of Cards portrays the president as a pawn. Or maybe more apt, the king piece in Chess — he's important because he's the top, but he can really only move one spot at a time and has to be submissive by nature of his importance. I still can't tell if Frank Underwood wants the position for himself, thinking he could do better, or if he merely wants to be on the sidelines but controlling things. It's not something he can really think about now, though — he's laser-focused on cutting off Raymond Tusk from the legs, who has turned into the Ted Turner arch villain.

The B plots seem to be falling the wayside or shifting entirely. The Lucas plot could realistically end now. Rachel Posner could get interesting — but mostly it's a reflection of Doug Stamper, whose character is getting fleshed out so much that I'm worried he's being set up for a big sendoff in the show. Surely some dramatic change. And Seth Grayson? Who knows who he'll quadruple-cross next. Christina is nothing more than eye candy — a significant downgrade from last season. More Freddy, please.

By the way, the drinking game should've been "for every Civil War reference."

Fourth wall moments: just one that I recall. Destroyed furniture: something something Civil War table. Red Bulls consumed: just two. Fuck it, I'm having half that Butterfinger. At 9:30 in the morning.

This is the halfway point!

Chapter 21 (47:18)

6 hours, 36 minutes, 2 Red Bulls, and half a Butterfinger into the marathon

  • Headline: "Chinese Company May Build L.I. Sound Bridge / Awaiting Administration Approval."
  • That's Evelyn Baxter, from the first season, that Remy is approaching. Claire had her fire all the employees, give her sob story, and then Claire fired her. She kind of landed on her feet — temp job at reception for a Dentist office.
  • Oh, I think I've been to that Starbucks! This is compelling commentary. (4 min)
  • Okay, maybe Lisa (Rachel's "friend") is a double agent working for someone else. Like Seth Grayson. Like Gavin Orsy. (7 min)
  • Hey! It's the McGinnis plot!... does anyone remember Peter Russo?
  • So Remy and Jackie's love story will... is it going anywhere?
  • Oh no, President Walker is getting sappy about relationships. And First Lady Walker did earlier, too. And in between that Remy and Jackie. We're somewhere between Scandal and Degrassi. (14 min)
  • "You were supposed to tell me to stay. But it's nice to know I'm worth at least two minutes." HE'S THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HE'S ALREADY 15 MINUTES LATE TO THE NEXT MEETING. (18 min)
  • The Underwoods marriage counselor. 202-251-6258. I called it. "I'm sorry, but the person you just called has not set up the voicemail yet."
  • Adam Galloway is returning! You know, the photographer that kind of looks like the Dread Pirate Roberts and was totally sleeping with Princess Buttercup last season. It's basically modern-day fan fiction. (20 min)
  • "A tip of your iceberg is melting, Frank" is definitely, definitely innuendo. Especially since it's a lead-in to Tusk asking him to help mend the relationship between him and the president. This is apparently the "couples counseling" episode.
  • Soy-fed Matsusaka beef. $200 per pound. DOG TOY. "Dogs are so predictable aren't they?" (25 min)
  • Part of me wants to feel bad for Doug Stamper, a recovering alcoholic loyal to his employer. But he is really good at that whole manipulating / mock-kidnap thing. (27 min)
  • Oh no! Frank is losing it with Linda Vasquez. Dis gon b gud. (28 min)
  • Triple Agent™ Seth Grayson is now stooping to Double Agent™ for Remy. "You're nothing. You're a parasite." "So are you, Danton, in a nicer suit." I swear he's a Quadruple Agent™ for someone else. (31 min)
  • There haven't been enough scenes of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright together, King Richard III and Lady MacBeth speaking in Shakespearean tones. (32 min)
  • I'm really, truly happy for Rachel and Lisa... but it still feels unrelated to anything else going on in the show. (35 min)
  • Robin Wright. Just stellar. (38 min)
  • Civil War reference. Take a shot — if it's not 10:20AM your time (42 min)
  • Tusk has his own Lady MacBeth. "What do you think, Jean?" "Fuck him, do it."
  • Another moment between Frank and Claire. I cherish every one of these.
  • OH NO, MY SWEET WESLEY. (AS YOU WIIIIISH)

Final thoughts:Remy and Jackie. Rachel and Lisa. Garrett and Patricia Walker... Garrett and Raymond. This episode is all about couples. Not necessarily relationships, but there's a common theme stretched across numerous pairings in this episode. It's about mending, or breaking, bonds. So it's only natural that the cliffhanger at the end was one such relationship — exposed because of the damage to another, with the final call being made by Tusk's spouse. Pairs all around.

While we have a moment... does anyone remember Peter Russo? Christina? Lucas? Hammerschmidt? Janine? Zoe?

Fourth wall: 3 moments.

I'm hungry.

Chapter 22 (49:09)

7 hours, 29 minutes into the marathon

  • You know what? I don't just want a chain of Freddy's BBQ in real life, I also want a Better Caul Saul-esque spinoff on the life of Freddy. I fully choose to believe it's Reg E. Cathy's character Norman Wilson from The Wire, who got sick of politics and decided to change names and move to D.C. to cook. He's just a badass. Let's make it happen. I'll write the pilot.
  • Directed by... Jodie Foster? Not the Jodie Foster, is it?
  • I swear if this man is fucking with Freddy's business, I'm gonna... scream at my TV and down another Red Bull. (5 min)
  • I wonder if they tried to get Cary Elwes for the role of Adam Galloway. At least they got someone who could do the Elwes mustache. (7 min)
  • I really like Frank's subtle, blink-and-you'll-miss-it glances to the camera this season. Very effective. (9 min)
  • It's an unconventional love, but damn do I love Frank and Claire and their robotic ways. Should we be more upset? What is emotion, anyway? Come, let's go rehearse outward emotion for the camera.
  • Who was that woman, why is she going to St. Louis, why was she there in the first place if she thought it was tabloid bullshit? (13 min)
  • Oh no, this Princess Bride sequel just got messy. And we just missed a chance for another smoking scene. I miss those. (16 min)
  • Remy: "You and I are just pawns, Mr. Galloway." Truer words. What is Bogota?
  • FREDDY! (19 min)
  • Okay, so that journalist earlier? The Wall Street Telegraph. Oh yeah... St. Louis Missouri! Tusk! I get it now. Sorry, marathon and all. She was the one who discovered the Feng and Tusk connection earlier. (20 min)
  • "You used the word 'intertwined.'" Another nice way to describe this show. (22 min)
  • "American can be just as dangerous as Iran, Ms. Sayyad." Tusk's villainy is leaking.
  • I really hope Tusk's "other thing" has nothing to do with Freddy, because it'll just... OH GOD IT IS NO! (27 min)
  • "I won't leave one of my own bleeding on the field." That's something of a Civil Wars reference. Drink? (29 min)
  • Since they're talking about it, Blind Willie Johnson - "Dark Was the Night" (33 min)
  • "They stepped on the wrong motherfuckin' rattlesnake."
  • "I can't take back the bad I done. All I can do is to make my own way, like I been doing. You understand? Ain't pride, Frank." (37 min)
  • Fourth wall monologue: "Do you think I'm a hypocrite? Well you should. I wouldn't disagree with you. The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and causalities. Never regret." (38 min)
  • Do you think Remy is allowed to shave his pencil-thin mustache? That it now has to match Tusk's? "Look Raymond, I'm your lobbyist. Not your henchman" he says to the man who just killed a bird with his bare hands what the hell oh my god he's evil. (44 min)
  • Best 20 seconds of this whole season. Frank: "As for Raymond, we have to strike back hard and fast. I want him obliterated." Claire: "More than that. Let's make him suffer." Frank (now to the audience): "I don't know whether to be proud or terrified. Perhaps both." (45 min)
  • Goodbye, Freddy's. Let's do this Better Call Saul spinoff thing.

Final thoughts: This might be a good time to bring up that a third season of House of Cards has already been ordered because there's a strong chance this one's gonna end on a messy note. The second season so far has been a very personal season for the Underwoods, even as secondary plots threaten to distract and derail the main arc. As evil and manipulative as we've seen Frank — and indeed, we've seen a number of people who take a more noble route — what compassionate he does have separates the man from his rival, Raymond Tusk. There's no question after this episode, Frank is an antihero by comparison.

Five monologues to the camera. I haven't moved my foot in at least two hours. Good morning, west coast!

Hocs2_doug_560

Chapter 23 (50:52)

8 hours, 29 minutes into marathon

  • Welcome back, hacker Gavin! And the weird Rachel / Doug storyline! Does anyone remember Peter Russo?
  • Oh what the hell that's (probably) a large bomb.
  • This episode was I believe directed by Robin Wright. And features a panic room. The Jodie Foster one (who starred in Panic Room) was an episode or two back... remember, 8 hours, 29 minutes and counting.
  • Jackie was introduced as a strong, aggressive replacement for Frank. And now? She pops in as someone learning to love and serving as a foil to Remy so he's not entirely a heartless henchman... that seems to be about it. (11 min)
  • The best I can gather, The Wall Street Telegraph writer's sole purpose is to play the "Zoe Barnes role" — only, you know, actually investigate. She otherwise has no role to any of the characters. (Somewhat tangential but it's been awhile: poor Lucas!) (13 min)
  • Looks like Jackie is become a key part of the story again — abruptly, and now involving the other Underwood and her sexual assault bill.
  • ... I wonder if Gillian Cole is doing well, I wonder how her baby is.
  • Christina was quietly leveled off? That was the most gradual demotion of a cast position since Zoe Barnes' boyfriend was dragged around for several episodes and successfully jailed on charges of cyberterrorism... (Poor Lucas) (18 min)
  • Smoking scene!
  • Sayyad is great. I wish we saw more of her early on. Also, The Wall Street Telegraph is presented as a much more capable, investigative-focused news outlet than we've seen so far with The Washington Herald and Slugline. (25 min)
  • OK... Frank, you're kinky. And weird. But on the bright side it's led to a really sweet moment — and audio of Robin Wright with a southern belle accent. (Caveat: "sweet" in a very Underwood way. It's all relative.) (28 min)
  • Sean Hannity cameo! Add that to Rachel Maddow in the premiere (oh, and again here), Chris Matthews, as well as various CNN nods throughout. (32 min)
  • ... Actually, I'm rewinding back to a key moment from Frank to us (31 min): "It's not beginning the story that I fear. It's not knowing how it will end. Everyone is fair game now, including me."
  • Watching Frank squirm and placate, go back and forth, is a very odd side. (35 min)
  • Cue Remy with the latest dog metaphor: "I'm a bitch to a lot of top dogs. I'm fully aware and willing. But you're worse. You're Frank's bitch and refuse to believe it."
  • Wait wait WAIT... is Frank crushing on Meechum? He called him by his first name, they play catch, share a beer, doesn't mind when he catches him watch porn. Don't forget about Chapter 8 last season... you know... the experimental-college-Frank-reminiscing-with-his-maybe-friend-with-benefits episode. (41 min)
  • Remy's top dog marching orders, since you'll not at all be surprised: Birch, Womack, and Sharp — especially Jackie Sharp, his girlfriend and Frank's favorite. (43 min)
  • "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this" — me, crossing the 9-hour mark and staying focused.
  • Doug "finally kind of sort of do the right thing" Stamper
  • I just searched "Tale of two cities it was the best of" and got literature.org. So let's just pretend that's where Rachel ended up.
  • Emotional hacker Gavin Dorsy is about to cause ruckus. Why? I'm not 100 percent sure, but he's got a great creepy gaze.

Final thoughts: You know, I thought summing up my thoughts would be smart — collecting all the notes and looking for a bigger picture, a common thread over the last 48 to 52 minutes. I hate myself for that, really I do. I have nothing else to add than what I've already said. This episode feels like the build up to the third Act of what is probably the second Act (i.e. season two) of a larger arc. So it's a sub-act. Anyway... it feels like we're setting up the last pieces of this season's plot before they all start falling. 3 more episodes to go. I think 3 fourth-wall monologues this time? But really some of the best. To repeat the line: "It's not beginning the story that I fear. It's not knowing how it will end. Everyone is fair game now, including me."

Okay, break's over. Time for the last run.

Chapter 24 (53:32)

9 hours, 31 minutes, 2 coconut waters, 2 Red Bulls, 1 bag of Caramel Rice Crisps, about 7 or so bathroom breaks, and 6388 words into the marathon

  • Hello, Ayla! You should've been main cast much more quickly.
  • Kim Kardashian jokes! Topical.
  • "It's the Galloway nonsense" is not a very good catchphrase
  • Oh no! Doug! We've seen him built up all season into a human — including right now in an AA meeting. This is where he falls. Is it jail or death? It's easy to forget, but Frank Underwood has murdered two people in cold blood — at one point while wearing very silly glasses and a hat. (9 min)
  • "From the lion's den to a pack of wolves, when you're fresh meat, kill and throw them something fresher." (10 min)
  • Soliloquy |səˈliləkwē| - noun (pl. soliloquies) - an act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, esp. by a character in a play. (14 min)
  • "We're not young men. If we fail, we'll die in a cage." (17 min)
  • A third chance for Doug!
  • What about Remy? Did he break "good" (which is to say, pro-Frank) or is it just the parting gift of a return watch?
  • Return of the rowing machine! But this time for Claire. (19 min)
  • So the last we heard from McGinnis, his wife was calling him... and that's it for known retribution.
  • Even when Remy threatens someone, it sounds like flirting. (29 min)
  • Is... is Frank about to screw over the president? (32 min)
  • There has been a lot going on, but in terms of context and commentary... not much else to say. It's a good run of scenes and plenty of over-enunciated 'h' sounds when Frank says, "What," "whom," and "with." (39 min)
  • While we're in the middle of all this: 2 sugar-free Red Bull, 2 things of coconut water, 1 Bag of Caramel rice crisps, 1 tub of Hummus, about 1/2 box of Wheat Thins, and 1/2 a Butterfinger = 1765 calories so far.
  • Going back a few... was Megan's clumsiness odd foreshadowing or a throwaway? Then a repeat of dropped things in the kitchen for the next scene? And was that an odd, somewhat menacing look by Meechum? (43 min)
  • What did the president just take? And what did the press release say? And is Edward going to become some weird fetishistic object for the Underwoods? And what's up with Gavin the hacker? And are there any other Civil War questions left unanswered? And why is the sky blue? And can I have some coffee? (47 min)
  • Okay, so... at least one of those questions was just answered. Shit. Just. Got. Weird.
  • "What is it?" "Something weird."

Final thoughts: I got none. On to the last two! We can do this!

Chapter 25 (47:08)

10 hours, 28 minutes, 1765 calaories into the marathon

  • I can do this. I can do this.
  • Prediction: no Peter Russo, Christina, Zoe Barnes, Lucas, Janine, Tom, Gillian Cole... and, alas, no Freddy
  • President Walker is maaaaaaaaaaaaad. On the plus side, it's a good boxing metaphor. Up until "I know your moves," which is pretty hilarious. (2 min)
  • Great, now Jackie is on the warpath, too. Maybe this is the episode where all the lesser characters start getting outwardly peeved. (7 min)
  • Smoke break! And to fill in a piece from earlier, the president is probably on Xanax.
  • "Cry havoc," said he who fought chaos with chaos, "and let slip the dogs of war." - Act 3, Scene 1, line 273 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. (8 min)
  • Give into the dark side, Cathy. Join Frank. Just once more. And so it seems she did.
  • Return of Tusk and a beard. I've missed the villainy, but it seems his hands are tied. Not as much fun. Boooo. (12 min)
  • Chris Hayes, the latest talking head to join in on the theatrics. Jackie is getting dirty. (17 min)
  • Almost there, almost there.
  • Garrett wanting to protect his wife is sweet and tender. That's an ongoing theme, the value and strength of these relationships.
  • Is Gavin using Lucas and all that to set himself up as a Big Bad for season 3? That seems... like a different show altogether. It's still very weird even what's been seen so far. (26 min)
  • Is Seth Grayson pulling a QUADRUPLE AGENT here? Is this what I have been looking for all along?! Has it happened?! Or is Seth just fooling around. (32 min)
  • Remy did not just correct the size of Tusk's... market cap. (33 min)
  • "My client exercises his right to plead the fifth amendment" is also not a good catch phrase. (35 min)
  • Breakups are confusing. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! (37 min)
  • At what point does Olivia Pope get called in?
  • "We want you to do what you do so well: whip the votes." Jackie is taking on both Frank and Claire at the same time. "Just shy, which is politics." (43 min)
  • Civil War reference! Take a drink!

Final thoughts: let's just do this. ONTO THE SEASON FINALE.

Chapter 26 - season finale (59:25)

11 hours, 16 minutes in the marathon

  • Here we go!
  • Let's take a step back, here. In just one term, we've already lost one Vice President. Are we about to (1) lose another or (2) lose the president, thereby the full ticket?
  • The final title cards. I'm getting sentimental here (5 min)
  • No, wait, that's sleep deprivation. I just remembered I only had 2 hours of sleep last night.
  • "And what do you expect this time?" "That you never become Frank Underwood... I don't like Frank, but I hate being the minority even more." "I'm just getting better at playing the game." This is a much different Donald Blythe.
  • "Good things happen to those who do the right thing." LOL, Linda Vasquez. You so funny, girl. (10 min)
  • Remember the peach with the anus? Ahhhh, season one. Also, remember Peter Russo? Now I'm the one making jokes.
  • "You don't use somebody you care about." Clearly Megan hasn't been watching her own show.
  • I can't say it enough. Kudos to Robin Wright on a great performance this season.
  • Dum. Dum. d-DUM. Dum. (20 min)
  • "Well I can't sit next to him in the hearing room with a gun to his head." "Well that sounds like an excuse." What would these two be like shopping for groceries together? (21 min)
  • Ooh, dramatic, a typewriter. Now Frank is ready for... something... very serious? (24 min)
  • Hey, Michael Kern! He was the first person we saw Frank fuck over all the way back in the season premiere. (33 min)
  • asl;dkfjal;ksjdf;lkajs;lfdkjaslkj (35 min)
  • "That's a shame. Handcuffs were another item on my bucket list."
  • "I think the country could use a bit of bipartisanship, don't you?" — no real politician ever
  • And now for something completely different: here's Gavin Orsy and Doug Stamper trying to give Rachel Posner more reason to be in this season. (41 min)
  • Did he just leave his keys in the car? For anyone to come by and grab? I'm just saying, it's a really nice car. (45 min)
  • ... just like that, actually. Mr. Stamper, in the woods, with a brick. (46 min)
  • Smoking scene! Back to the classics (47 min)
  • South Carolina voted for him, the elected President picked him for VP, and then he assumed the role after the President resigned . Democracy!
  • If Frank Underwood is the 46th president, that means Walker (45th) followed Obama (44th). Which is also to say, everyone should be wearing Google Glass and taking Virgin Galactic flights to the moon. What the hell, temporal continuity? (51 min)
  • "I know your birthday isn't for a couple of weeks," which is to say, this has been an 11-month trip, give or take. (55 min)
  • THUMP!

Final thoughts: So where does Frank go from here? He's got the highest authority in the land. Will he try to take over Canada? Is there a galactic court? Will he get bored and tear down Congress for a roller skating rink? And what about every other plot point. Rachel Posner? Potentially a subject for next year, but if it's anything like Peter Russo or Zoe Barnes, it won't have a material impact — just loose ends to somewhat wrap up as they find a new story.

So that's it! It took me 12 hours, 21 minutes. If you really want to, though, it's definitely possible to finish under 12 hours. I'll clean up the liveblog later, maybe into something more like a compendium. For now? A quick nap. Thanks for reading this far!

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